When you think of your spine, you probably think about your back, since that’s where the spine is located. But your spinal cord controls pain sensations all over your body. When some part of your body is injured or traumatized, your nerves transmit pain signals through the spinal cord until they reach your brain, which translates them into the experience of pain.
Louis J. Raso, MD, PA, a double board-certified interventional pain specialist and anesthesiologist in Jupiter, Florida, is an expert at diagnosing and treating spinal pain conditions that may manifest in different areas of the body. Here, he outlines some of the classic symptoms of spinal pain, so you can get the treatment you need to feel and function optimally again.
Spinal stenosis is a condition in which the hollow portion of your spine, through which the spinal cord passes, is so narrow that it compresses on your spinal nerves. Most spinal stenosis occurs because of age-related changes to the spine, including osteoarthritis, but you can also be born with the condition or develop it as a result of an accident or other trauma.
Even if your back doesn’t hurt, you may have spinal stenosis if you’ve noticed strange sensations or numbness in your arms, hands, legs, or feet. When the spinal column is narrow enough to compress or pinch your nerves, it may affect the nerves that come from your limbs.
The nerve compression in spinal stenosis doesn’t just affect the way your limbs feel; it affects their function, too. One of the classic symptoms of spinal stenosis is having trouble keeping your balance or walking normally. When your nerves are compressed, they can’t normally transmit signals to the brain, which may complicate your ability to translate simple acts, such as walking or grasping, to your feet and hands.
Back pain is a common complaint. Sometimes you experience back pain because you’ve sprained or strained your muscles, ligaments, or tendons. That type of pain usually resolves within days to weeks with the RICE (rest, icing, compression, and elevation) protocol and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
However, if you have chronic lower or middle back pain, nerve compression in your spinal column may be at the root of your pain. Chronic lower back pain (i.e., pain that lasts for three months or more) may be caused by spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, a slipped disc, and other conditions that can compress the spinal nerves.
Your neck is an extension of your spine and therefore can be affected by spinal stenosis, slipped discs, and osteoarthritis in your spine and back. When you have neck pain, you may also find it difficult to move your neck normally, so that it’s hard to look behind you or from side to side. If your neck pain doesn’t resolve within three months, or if your pain and stiffness interfere with your ability to accomplish daily tasks, contact Dr. Raso for an evaluation and treatment.
If you’re not quite as tall as you used to be, or if you’re having trouble moving your back, you might have a vertebral compression fracture. When your spine degenerates over time due to osteoarthritis or other conditions, your vertebrae weaken and can develop hairline fractures from even simple movements. Without treatment, vertebral compression fractures can cause permanent damage to your spinal nerves.
If you have any kind of pain symptoms or sensations that are making it difficult for you to get through your day, contact Dr. Raso. He spends time taking a complete medical history, examining your spine and body, and evaluating your range of motion. He also orders X-rays, MRIs, and other needed tests to determine the source of your pain.
Based on his diagnosis, he customizes a treatment plan so that you can resolve your spinal pain and get back to your life. Some therapies may include:
Don’t put up with painful or unsettling symptoms. Contact Dr. Raso today for a spinal pain evaluation and diagnosis. Call our friendly team or use the online form to request an appointment.